Add more punch to your fitness regime with these underground combat courses. By Baey Shi Chen
Aside from picking up selfdefence skills, combat courses can be a good
way of building your mental resilience and self-confidence. So, whether you want
to toughen yourself up, find another way to work off your pent-up frustration,
or simply learn something new, here are a whole slew of combat techniques to
help you perfect your moves. Get ready to rumble.
The lowdown: Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) is a martial arts and combat sport that focuses on grappling, ground fighting and positional strategy. With the goal of gaining a dominant position by using joint-locks and chokeholds, it aims to force an opponent into submission. With origins in judo, it evolved into its present form after Mitsuyo Maeda, a Japanese expert in judoka, brought it to Brazil in 1914. The sport is sometimes also known as Gracie jiu-jitsu, after another famous practitioner, Rorion Gracie.
The damage: At Budo Academy, which is run by Jagsport, Brazilian jiu-jitsu classes are overseen by Kreation Jiujutsu. Beginners are advised to sign up for a two-session trial package at $90 to determine their most appropriate level. What’s more, other than Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the school provides lessons in combat techniques such as chanbara, judo and sambo. It also runs programs for accredited courses for those who want to train as instructors in Dynamic Combat.
340B King George’s Ave., 6297-1202, www.jagsport.com
The lowdown: A dazzling mix of martial arts, games and dance, this 16th century fighting technique was invented by African slaves in colonial Brazil. Comprising acrobatic sparring moves and the innovative use of maneuvers such as slaps, elbow strikes and head-butts executed to musical rhythm, it is graceful yet lethal. A quintessential part of the vibrant Brazilian street culture, it even spawned the genre of breakdance, which is inspired by certain capoeira moves.
The damage: Capoeira lessons are held by Bantus Capoeira (www.sg.bantus.org) at the YMCA. Lessons start from $120 per month for students and national servicemen and $150 per month for working adults for unlimited sessions. Single classes are also available at $20. A one-time Bantus Capoeira Singapore registration fee of $50 comes with a Bantus t-shirt and a YMCA membership will be levied at $21.40 for adults and $10.70 for those under 21.
1 Orchard Rd., 6336-6000. www.ymca.org.sg
The lowdown: Hebrew for “hand-to-hand combat,” krav maga developed in Israel, and this formidable self-defence technique is part of the training regime of the Israeli defence forces as well as other international militaries. A self-preservation skill that focuses on neutralizing threats through a quick transition from defensive to offensive tactics, this is a take-no-prisoners technique that requires endurance and quick reflexes. Krav maga stands apart from most defence techniques as it is devised from a combination of martial arts disciplines such as muay Thai, aikido and jiu-jitsu, and it does not have the set routines common to other fighting techniques.
The damage: Fightworks Asia conducts regular krav maga classes seven days a week and boasts the reputation of being the only certified and approved IKMF (International Krav Maga Federation) training center in Singapore. Class fees are $200 per month for unlimited training sessions, and personal training sessions are also available. Basic safety gear consisting of protective guards and shields can be purchased at $250. For those who want to acquire IKMF certification, the program costs $1,500 and you need to be eligible. The school also offers a comprehensive range of combat techniques such as jeet kune do, boxing, capoeira, muay thai, gungkite kali derecho (SKD), judo and more.
#04-00 Standard Photo Building, 565 Macpherson Rd., 6285-6028, www.fightworksasia.com.sg
The lowdown: The national sport of the Thais, the ancient art of muay Thai is known as “the art of eight limbs” and is guided by Buddhist spiritual tenets. With the hands, shins and elbows heavily employed during combat, available points of contact are increased during bouts, thus increasing the variety of strategies available to the fighters; and making this sport especially thrilling to watch. Consisting of a complex series of moves such as hooks, jabs, knee strikes and uppercuts, muay Thai is good for building flexibility, agility and stamina.
The damage: At Royal Thai Fitness, set up by Master Thomas Chan, you get to learn the skills of muay Thai in a unique outdoor pavilion. Lessons range from basic to expert and include guided one-on-one sparring sessions. Fees start at $25 per session for group training to $65 per session for personal training sessions. Alternatively, you can also sign up for packages consisting of four (individuals, $300 or $360; group, $140 or $220) or eight sessions.
#05-02, 55 Newton Rd., 9836-2868. www.muaythai.com.sg
The lowdow: Known as “dirty boxing,” panuntukan is a fighting system from the Philippines that developed in the streets. Based on movements from the kali knife system (another indigenous Filipino martial art), its movements comprise swift upper-body actions, prioritizing parries and deflections over blocks. It also includes low-line kicks to the legs and knees. According to Guro Fred Evrard, founder of Kali Majapahit, a local martial arts school that specializes in Filipino martial art, it’s the efficiency in techniques that sets Filipino fighting systems, such as panutukan, apart from others. “Panuntukan’s techniques look similar to muay Thai’s, but it has some added tricks. It is not ruled by regulations and was, kept as a warrior art, with the obvious efficiency that comes with it, he says.
The damage: At Kali Majapahit, a panuntukan programme is priced at $99 per month for two training sessions per week, and the school provides heavy bags, speed balls, wooden dummies and tatami mats so that you can practice in safety. The school also offers lessons in kali majapahit, a martial art created by Evrad, and programs specially designed for children as young as six.
#02-01, 43 Carpenter St., 6534-5254, www.kali-majapahit.com
Mixed Martial Arts
The lowdown: Can’t decide which martial art discipline to try? Give Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) a go. A blend of muay Thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, boxing and wrestling, it is suitable for learners of all ages and fitness levels and trains you into a complete fighter adept in four primary ranges of combat—kicking, punching, clinching/kneeing/takedowns and ground fighting. Chatri Sityodtong, muay Thai instructor at Evolve Mixed Martial Arts, says, “Ninety percent of all martial art moves are actually ineffective in real life, but every technique in MMA has been proven to work in reality. MMA takes the best 10 percent techniques from every martial art around the world.”
The damage: Boasting an impressive roll call of professional MMA fighters and instructors, including top MMA fighter in Singapore, Setsuma Takeda, Evolve Mixed Martial Arts offers an extensive range of packages depending on the length of commitment of each participant, and prices start from $189 per month. The school also has a special program to train professional fighters and offers lessons in individual combat disciplines such as muay Thai, submission grappling, street self-defense, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and wrestling. It also has a program for children aged six to 15 years-old to develop discipline and self-defence skills.
#02-22,1 Selegie Rd., 6337-0082, www.evolve-mma.com